The Diana I Miss

I remember the first time I heard of Diana Spencer. I was babysitting and flipping through a Newsweek magazine as one does when one is thirteen. In the Newsmakers section, there was a photo of a young British woman in a skirt, holding a toddler as the sun shone through that treacherous Liberty Print.

Not long after that, I was watching Good Morning, America and saw the engagement announcement. I don’t know exactly what it was–the fact that she was only six years older than me, or the idea that for the first time in my lifetime, the British royal family felt relatable to me. I’d read Robert Lacey’s Majesty some years before, and in the Queen, the serious and responsible older of two daughters, I’d felt a kinship. Now that she was getting new daughter-in-law in a huge, elaborate wedding, I was hooked.

By the time July 29th rolled around, I was a thoroughly devoted Diana-phile. I had clippings from newspapers and magazines, and early that morning, I was awake at three to watch wedding coverage. I don’t think I moved from in front of the television for the entire day.

When I went to eighth grade the following September, I was sporting a Lady Di hair style–the first time I’d ever cut my long, wavy hair. I imitated the Princess of Wales’ style of clothes, and if you see photos of me around that age? Just about every one has me giving the Shy Di under the bangs smile. I  bought all of the photo books about the couple and devoured them .

Over the next few years as I navigated my time in high school, met my future husband and then went to college, I continued to celebrate the highs of Diana’s royal life. I loved the few interviews she and Prince Charles allowed, found their babies adorable and travled vicariously as they performed their royal duties.

My own marriage and babies definitely distracted me right around the time when it became glaringly apparent that the fairy tale was faltering. 1992, the Queen’s infamous annus horribillus, was the same year that my family and I moved from Hawaii, where we’d lived for five years. I had two little girls to keep me busy. Still, it made me so sad to hear that Diana and Charles had grown apart, that they were separating. Their divorce was such a depressing end to what was meant to be the perfect happily ever after.

By the summer of 1997, I had three little girls, and my husband and I were living back in our hometown in South Jersey. I awoke on the Sunday morning of Labor Day Weekend thinking about the coming school year; my oldest daughter was beginning third grade, and our second was going into kindergarten. I came downstairs to begin breakfast and turned on the television.

The first thing I heard was something I could not believe.

“Diana, the Princess of Wales, is dead.”

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. No, it couldn’t be! Diana was only 36. She was young, vital, in the middle of recreating her life in the wake of her divorce. She had two small sons.

It couldn’t be.

And yet, it was. She had died horribly in a car accident in Paris, where she’d been chased by reporters and photographers. It was a wholly preventable death. So tragic. So unnecessary.

For days, I was inconsolable. I’ve heard that in recent years, Prince Harry noted that he’d been perplexed by the overwhelming grief of people who had never met his mother. I understand that it must felt odd. He’s right; none of us in the wider world knew Diana as he did, as her family and friends did.

But we loved her all the same.

She had a way of making all the world feel as though we were part of her royal adventure. We saw in her hope and possibility, grace and compassion, love for those who needed it most.

Perhaps we didn’t see the full picture; we seldom do, even with those closest to us. Maybe the real Diana could be petty or insecure or unhappy. I know that even now, I struggle when friends remember my parents in a way that it is at odds with what I knew about them in private. So I can understand a little.

In the twenty-five years since she was taken from the world, we’ve watched her sons grow up, marry and have children. We’ve seen the Royal Family grow and evolve. We’ve watched how her influence is felt even today.

When I write my royal romances, I am often thinking of Diana. I’ve alluded to her within the stories, not by name but by example. Since my books are set within the real British Royal Family (albeit with fictional characters), I think it’s important to note the tragedies along with the triumphs.

I didn’t think about what today was when I decided to release The Royal Nanny Undercover this week and put the box set on sale. But how strangely appropriate it is that I’m celebrating royal love stories twenty-five years after we lost our beautiful princess.

As I remember her today, even through misty eyes of remembered grief, I like to think of that nineteen year old nanny with the ashy blonde hair and the Sloan Ranger style. I like to recall her sitting on the beds of AIDS patients, holding their hands, weeping with them, making them laugh. I want to remember her consoling the victims of land mines and speaking out with courage and anger about the ongoing issue.

And just as I did when my own mother died, I hope that at the end, she realized how much she was loved–not for a title, but for what she meant to a world that needed her particular brand of truth and love.

***RELEASE DAY for The Royal Nanny Undercover!!***

When an old friend calls in a favor that sends me to the UK to pose as a nanny, I’m not thrilled. Kids and me? Not a great mix. But Prince Nicholas and his wife, Kyra, turn out to be the most relaxed royal parents ever, and their little girl is actually a sweetheart. Protecting their family turns into something I want to do. Maybe this undercover nanny job will be easier than I thought.

The only problem? The prince’s cousin Milo, the Earl of Ross, is living here, too, and this guy is a huge complication. He’s arrogant, elitist, and haughty. Oh, and he’s also handsome, sexy, and super hot.

I don’t want to feel this attraction to him, but it seems I can’t help it. How can I do my job if I’m more worried about protecting my heart from falling for him?

 

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Tawdra Kandle is the author of over 100 romances that span genres from contemporary through paranormal. Her engaging and realistic characters bring readers back again and again to devour the steamy love stories she spins. Fan favorites include The Anti-Cinderella Chronicles and the Career Soldier series.

Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband, who is an Anglican priest, a sweet pup, and too many cats. Assorted grown children and two perfect granddaughters live nearby. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

You can visit Tawdra’s website for more information and subscribe to her newsletter for sales announcements, special exclusive content, and promotions!

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The Anti-Cinderella Royal Romance Box Set: Celebrate the 99 cent sale with a bonus scene!

How to celebrate a 99-cent sale on a super romantic royal box set? How about a never-before-seen prequel scene??

 

“This was the best idea ever, Ky.”

My grandmother lifted the bottle of wine toward me just before she took a long swig. Next to me, my best friend Shelby giggled.

“Go, Honey! I’m impressed.”

Honey grinned at her. “Sweetie, never go up against this old hippie in a drinking contest. You’ll always lose.” She passed the bottle to me. “But I’m serious, Kyra. Having a girls’ night to christen your new digs here in Maine was inspired. And I appreciate that you two young ones included this old broad.”

“If you’re an old broad, Honey, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” I took a less-ambitious sip of the bottle.

“Genetics tells us you have a pretty good shot.” My grandmother winked and nudged me. “But you know that old saw about how you’re only as old as you feel? It’s true. I know that to you girls, I probably seem ancient, but in my mind, I’m a spring chicken. Young and spry. Just had my first kiss last night.” She sighed with a reminiscent smile.

“Ooooh, tell us about it!” Shelby leaned forward, her eyes sparkling. “I want to hear all the dirty details. Who did you kiss? Where did it happen?”

“Oh, darlings.” Honey held out her hand for the wine. “Well, it will sound tame and boring to you two, but for me, it was pure magic. ” Her smile broadened. “It was a sock hop, of all things. I went to a private school, but my best friend and I had learned that the local public high school was having a dance one Friday night. I’d been mooning after a boy who was a student there–we’d met at the library, and even though we’d barely spoken more than a word or two, I was positive that it was love at first sight.”

“And was it?” I tilted my head.

“Perhaps,” Honey allowed. “Maybe it was first love, that tender, precious bud that rarely weathers the storms of life. At any rate, Louisa–my best friend–convinced me that we should show up at the dance. So we played that old trick of telling our parents that we were each at the other’s house for the night, and then we snuck off to the dance.”

“You were such bad girls,” I teased. “And was your crush there?”

“Oh, yes, he was. Surrounded by girls, which made me want to turn around and leave. But then he saw me, and it was just like a storybook. He pushed through his crowd of admirers and came to me. He asked me to dance.”

“And you said yes, of course,” Shelby said.

“I don’t remember saying yes, but the next thing I knew, we were holding each other close on the dance floor while the band played Earth Angel.” 

“So romantic,” I groaned. “Then what?”

“As the song ended, he drew me even closer, lifted my chin with one finger, and he kissed me right there, in front of all of his friends and classmates.”

“God, I can’t stand it!” Shelby shimmied a little in her chair. “What happened next?”

Honey screwed up her face. “Then suddenly my father was there. He put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and yanked him away from me before he took me by the arm and dragged me–and Louisa–from the gym. All the way home, we got the tongue lashing of our lives.”

“What about your crush? Did you ever see him again?” I demanded.

“No.” Honey shook her head. “That night was the beginning of a new restlessness in me, a growing resentment of my parents’ restrictiveness and their expectations that I would follow in their footsteps. Six months later, I ran away from home and ended up in San Francisco, where eventually, I met a man who showed me what real love looked like.”

“I hope you’re talking about Handsome.” Shelby raised her eyebrows.

“Of course I am. Once I caught sight of him, he was it for me. No one else existed. I still feel the same way.” Honey sighed. “But I still never forgot that first kiss at the sock hop.”

“That’s so sweet.” I took my turn at the wine and reached for a handful of popcorn. “It’s your turn, Shelby. Tell us about your first kiss.”

“It wasn’t nearly as romantic as Honey’s story,” my friend retorted. “I was with a bunch of friends at the bowling alley, and a guy at the next lane suddenly came over to chat me up . . . and when I got a strike on my next turn, he kissed me.” Shelby rolled her eyes. “I found out later that his friends had bet him he couldn’t get a kiss before our games ended. I was super pissed off.”

“Ugh, that sucks.” I patted her arm. “But you’ve more than made up for it in the years since.”

“It’s true,” she agreed smugly. “I’ve had my share of kisses. But I’m still irritated that the jerk stole my first one.”

“Karma will get him,” Honey assured us. “And doesn’t your sister still write that column about having to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince, Shelby? You just happen to have hit an especially slimy frog first thing.” My grandmother’s gaze slid to me. “Speaking of princes . . .  I think it’s your turn to tell us a story, Ky.”

My face heated. The tale of my own first kiss was still a somewhat sensitive memory, and I rarely shared it. But now Shelby was watching me with anticipation and interest, and a small, knowing smile played around Honey’s lips.

“Oh, mine’s . . . it’s actually kind of boring. We used to spend the summers at Honey and Handsome’s house down in Florida when we were growing up. Honey’s best friend Louisa–the one from the sock hop–had a house right next door, and her grandchildren used to come for about a month every summer. One of them was a boy around my age, and one summer night . . .well, he kissed me.” I shrugged. “And that was my first kiss.”

Honey was watching me with an inscrutable eye, and I knew she must have been thinking about what I’d left out of the story–and why. But she didn’t say anything.

“C’mon, Kyra, there’s got to be more to it than that. Give me the deets, babe. You always tell the best stories, and this one was like the Reader’s Digest version. I need more.”

“There isn’t any more,” I replied, my words clipped. “I was fifteen. He was sixteen. We were on the beach, and he was leaving the next day. He kissed me, then he went into his grandmother’s house, and the next morning, he was gone. I never saw him again.”

“Did you have feelings for him?” Shelby pressed.

“I–I mean, I guess–” I tossed up both hands. “I was fifteen, Shel. Any feelings I had would have been shallow and . . . inconsequential.” Grimacing, I added, “And clearly he didn’t feel anything for me since he left without a backward glance and didn’t bother to ever write or call or anything.” All these years later, that pain still twinged just a little.

“But—” Shelby looked from me to Honey, obviously waiting for one of us to break. I caught my grandmother’s eye and telegraphed a plea for rescue.

“Shelby.” Honey snagged the wine and shook the bottle a little. “I think we need to crack open a new bottle. And once we do, I’ll tell you what it was like to be in Haight-Ashbury in the summer of 1969 . . .”

As my grandmother and my best friend disappeared into the kitchen to open another bottle, I breathed a silent sigh of relief. There wasn’t much I hid from Shelby; she’d been my best friend since we’d met in college, and now she was also my housemate.

But even so, I wasn’t ready to tell her that the boy who’d given me my first kiss was Nicholas Windsor . . . a prince of the United Kingdom and a grandson of the Queen.

After all, it wasn’t like I was ever going to see Nicky again.

 

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The Anti-Cinderella Royal Romance Box Set is Only 99 Cents!

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All three books in the best-selling The Anti-Cinderella trilogy available in one set!

The Anti-Cinderella

How many girls can say their first kiss was with a prince in the British royal family?

I was fourteen and he was sixteen, and yes, it was magical. But I didn’t even think about it-or Nicky Windsor-for the next ten years . . . until fate brought us back together again.
Now everything has spun out of control. The whole world seems to be watching me, wanting to see some kind of modern Cinderella story.
But trust me, I’m no man’s princess. I’m more comfortable in tennis shoes than in a tiara, more likely to rock a bucket than a ball gown, and more liable to fall on my face than to pull off a graceful wave.
The only thing that keeps me from running away and hiding is Nicky. He’s all I’ve ever wanted in a man: hot, hunky and head-over-heels in love with me. I think I feel the same way. I think I want to be with him forever.

The Anti-Cinderella Takes London

Falling in love with a prince wasn’t something I planned . . .

When I reconnected with the first guy I ever kissed, I never dreamed I’d end up moving to England to be closer to him. But Nicky and I are in love, and living together was the next logical step.
But dating royalty is even more challenging now that I’m in London. Every move I make, every word I say, is under the microscope. Becoming part of Nicky’s family while staying true to who I am isn’t easy.
Nicky makes everything worthwhile. The hours when we’re alone together are paradise. And if the press and the pressure are the price I have to pay for him . . . I’ll choose Nicky, every single time.
After all, London’s just another town. Right?

The Anti-Cinderella Conquers the World

The royal wedding was only the beginning of my happy ending . . .

I’m now a full-fledged member of the royal family. That means all my problems are over, doesn’t it?
Apparently not.
Even though I’m now a princess-by-marriage and a duchess-by-title, I’m still the same Kyra who’s prone to putting her sneaker-clad foot into her mouth.
It’s a good thing Nicky loves me. Our work is thriving, and our marriage is strong. Together, we can tackle any challenge. But it’s not until our peaceful existence is threatened that I realize how precious it is.
And they lived happily ever after . . . didn’t they?

AND a bonus short story!

Hot Off the Pressan Anti-Cinderella World Romance!

Sophie Kent loves her new job as press liaison for Kyra Duncan, fiancee of Britain’s Prince Nicholas. But there’s one downside, and it comes in the form of a very sexy, very annoying American reporter named Garrett Smith. He’s determined to make life more difficult, and so far, he’s succeeding. But these two just might discover their chemistry is stronger than their combat.

The Royal Nanny Undercover Sneak Peek!

When an old friend calls in a favor that sends me to the UK to pose as a nanny, I’m not thrilled. Kids and me? Not a great mix. But Prince Nicholas and his wife, Kyra, turn out to be the most relaxed royal parents ever, and their little girl is actually a sweetheart. Protecting their family turns into something I want to do. Maybe this undercover nanny job will be easier than I thought.

The only problem? The prince’s cousin Milo, the Earl of Ross, is living here, too, and this guy is a huge complication. He’s arrogant, elitist, and haughty. Oh, and he’s also handsome, sexy, and super hot.

I don’t want to feel this attraction to him, but it seems I can’t help it. How can I do my job if I’m more worried about protecting my heart from falling for him?

 

Releasing August 30th

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Read a preview below!!

 

“Well, isn’t this an intriguing scene.”

The deep, mocking voice, coming from just beyond my view, startled me, making my already racing heart leap. Suddenly, I was in defense mode, madly taking stock of my surroundings so that I could act instantaneously to protect my small charge.

“This is private property,” I yelled, instinctively lowering the timber of my voice to sound more confident and threatening. “Get out. The protection officers are already on their way.”

“I don’t think they are.” The speaker stepped into view, and my breath caught. He was tall, topping out at over six feet, I’d guess, and he was built like the swashbuckling hero on the front of one of those romance novels I often saw at the airport bookstores. His dark gray dress pants fit snugly around a narrow waist, and the long-sleeved black button-down shirt clung to an impossibly broad chest. Silky black hair was cut short except for a few locks that fell over his aristocratic forehead.

“Who are you?” I demanded, even though I was pretty sure I knew the answer. “And why are you here?”

He lifted his face to gaze up into mine then, and my traitorous, idiot heart went into race car mode, thumping madly to a beat that said, we want him! We want him now!

“I’m Milo Beaumont. The Earl of Ross, at your service, madam.” Those nearly black eyes brimmed with sardonic amusement as they wandered over me, sprawled over the top of a child’s play set, still trying to keep hold of Alice. “I’m here because I am an invited guest—and part of the family. I was on the terrace taking a phone call when I heard a shout and thought someone might be in need of assistance.” He lifted one eyebrow. “Clearly, I was correct.”

“I don’t need help,” I shot back stubbornly. “I’m fine. The situation is under control.”

“Despite all appearances to the contrary,” the Earl answered, his tone lazy and mocking. His gaze flickered to Alice. “Slide down and I’ll catch you.” He looked at me again. “You can let her go.”

“How do I know you are who you say?” I managed to choke out.

“You don’t.” He shrugged. “But you’re not really in a position to be choosy about who comes to your rescue then, are you, Miss . . .?”

I refused to have this conversation now, in this undignified position. I estimated that I could let go of Alice and then leap to the ground in time to tackle this guy if he tried to take off with the little girl. But I had a hunch he wouldn’t do that; it was more likely that he was who he claimed to be, although his status as an invited guest was questionable, given the conversation I’d had the night before with the Duke and Duchess.

“Fine,” I ground out. “Get her at the bottom, but then don’t move at all. Not one bit.”

The Earl raised both hands and sauntered to the base of the slide. I released my hold on Alice and scrambled to roll over and launch myself off the play set, trying not to hit my head for a second time. I landed on my feet and was by the side of tall, dark, and broody in seconds.

Releasing August 30th

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